Before you read this article make sure you catch up on the first part here – it covers the basics about moving to the UK. Part 2 covers some key things you need to know about day to day living in the UK.
Once you have arrived and have settled into your new home you need to get yourself access to public services. You need to sign yourself up to your local GP practice (also called a GP Surgery). Your local GP practice is a free to join service provided by the NHS (National Health Service) and you are free to access your doctor via an appointment system. Find your local practice here. Some practices offer extra services such as screening programs, access to a nutritionist or cosmetic procedures but not all of these services will be free of charge and they are not available in every practice. To sign up you will need to provide your passport or national i.d and a proof of address. You will then be given a form to fill out which will be used to register you to their database. You will also be registered with the NHS and you will receive your unique NHS number in the post. Your NHS number identifies you across all NHS services. You don’t need to provide this when you use the services, but it’s always a good idea to keep it somewhere safe.
Some useful advice – always try to visit your GP in anything other than an emergency. A&E (accident and emergency) is not always the best place to go when you are ill as they are very busy and you may have a long wait time. Of course, if it really is an emergency then go and you will be treated, if not there are other options available to you. There are NHS walk-in clinics that act as a doctor’s surgery, but one where you do not need to pre-book. You can find your local clinic here. If you need to speak to someone when your practice is closed (say, in the middle of the night), you can call NHS Direct on 111. You will get through to a highly trained adviser, supported by healthcare professionals. They will ask you a series of questions to assess your symptoms and immediately direct you to the best medical care for you.
The UK is a well-connected place with great public transport and good road networks. In London, most people’s daily commute consists of a bus, train or tube journey, while cycling has seen a spike and will continue to grow now that there is a cycle superhighway, and further planned safe cycle routes. Getting from a-b has never been easier, but you just need to know how the system works. In London, most people use an Oystercard or their own NFC-enabled bank card (your Monese card will work) or device (like their mobile phone) to pay for their travel. One thing to note is you can’t use cash on London buses anymore, they only accept contactless cards or the lesser spotted paper travel card. For more information about Lond travel, see here. In other cities, their transport works differently and not everywhere accepts NFC payments. For more information about transport networks in Manchester visit here and for Birmingham visit here.
When it comes to driving there are some specific things you need to know. If you are from an EC or EEA country then you are not lawfully bound to change your licence to a UK one. You can drive here as long as your licence is up to date. You may want to get a UK licence as there may be some benefits like cheaper car insurance or being able to use it as a form of i.d. You can do this by exchanging your licence for a UK one, see here for some more information.
However, if you are from outside the EC or EEA area then you do have a time limit on how long you can drive on your non-UK licence in the UK. You have a 12 month period where you can use your licence in the UK from when you arrive as a resident, but after this period has run out you either have to stop driving or you need to obtain a new, UK licence. To do this you will need to take a full UK driving test including getting a provisional licence, taking a theory test and then a final practical test.